Bulls rookie swingman Jimmy Butler isnt conflicted. Although hes a loyal Marquette University product, when the Heat visit the United Center, he wont feel much allegiance to his fellow ex-Golden Eagle, Dwyane Wade.
That doesnt mean Butler suddenly hates the All-Star shooting guard and arguably biggest star ever produced by the Milwaukee school.
Still got Marquette love for each other, Butler insisted, following the teams Tuesday-afternoon practice at the Berto Center. I think thats one and the same for everybody who goes through there.
We ran open gym out there at Marquette, did Midnight Madness together, so weve played a little bit together, nothing major, he continued. But look at him: He works really, really hard obviously, so hes constantly working out. But good dude. Very, very good dude.
Butler hasnt played with Wade extensively, but when he did have the opportunity to participate with and observe the Chicago native, particularly during the NBA lockout, he came away impressed.
Ive watched him work out a few times and dude can play, the rookie told CSNChicago.com. He goes hard in everything and he knows where he wants to get on the floor, and he works on the shots that hes going to take, so I think thats big. He can do a lot of different things, but he knows what hes good at, so when hes really, really good at something, he wants to perfect that.
Despite the rivalry between their respective teams, Wade even gave Butler some advice.
What everybody tells me: Go hard, stay inside of my game, Butler recounted. I think thats what got me there, so thats whats going to keep me here.
Butler has seen more playing time with Luol Deng currently sidelined to rest his ailing left wrist, but while Deng practiced Tuesday and could return for Wednesdays showdown, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau insisted, Were not afraid to put him out there, when asked about Butler.
More than likely, that means hed be matched up with fellow small forward LeBron James a challenge unto itself; Butler quipped, Try to stop him from scoring, when asked about his potential strategy to defend James but its not inconceivable that if he sees playing time, he could also guard Wade, something he has limited experience with.
At first, it was kind of nerve-wracking because it was him. Both pros now, but Im going to fight, just like everyone else does. Im not intimidated, but its a grind, thats for sure. Great player, so Ive got to give it my all, he said. Who knows? Well find out soon, I guess. A lot more studying to do, working with Griff, learning from Lu, so well find out soon.